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Lalu Prasad’s cell in RIMS’ prisoner ward doesn’t have mandatory land line phone

Recently, the incarcerated RJD chief Lalu Prasad was accused by the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of remote controlling election campaign in Bihar, using a cell phone. 

patna Updated: May 12, 2019 10:37 IST
Subhash Pathak
Subhash Pathak
Hindustan Times, Patna
lalu prasad's prison ward in RIMS,jharkhand jail manual,lalu prasad
File photo of RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is currently lodged in the prisoner’s ward of RIMS, Jharkhand. (Parwaz Khan /HT File )

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who is currently lodged in prisoner’s ward of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), does not have access to a landline telephone facility, which is mandatory as per the jail manual of Jharkhand.

Recently, the incarcerated RJD chief was accused by the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of remote controlling election campaign in Bihar, using a cell phone. Following Kumar’s accusation made during an interview to a local TV channel, raids were conducted at Prasad’s ward, but no gadget was recovered.

As per Jharkhand’s jail manual, a convict is entitled to have access to telephonic conversations on five declared numbers (family members, friends and advocates), which would be recorded and is a paid service.

But Jharkhand prison’s department has so far not arranged a landline telephone facility for Prasad, who is serving sentence in the fodder scam cases since December 2017.

Former union minister of state for home Subodh Kant Sahai suspected a design by the BJP government to isolate Prasad from exercising even his basic right as a prisoner. “There is a provision and it must be extended to everybody. It is also a reflection of panic in the NDA camp,” he told media persons in Patna on Saturday.

Acknowledging that the jail manual provides for the telephone facility to the prisoners on payment basis, IG (jail) in Jharkhand, Virednra Bhushan, said the department was yet to look into that aspect. “There is no demand from Prasad for telephone facility either. I will see how the facility could be arranged there,” said Bhushan, adding that all phone calls made by the prisoners to listed numbers are recorded.

Although the district administration looks after security requirements of Prasad in the ward, all other facilities such as scheduled weekly meeting of the RJD chief with leaders of his party and family members and video conferencing with jail authorities are facilitated by the staff of Birsa Munda Model Jail at Hotwar.

Last month, former Bihar CM and Prasad’s wife, Rabri Devi, had alleged that the RJD chief might be poisoned in the jail by those in the power in Jharkhand. “The BJP government wants to kill Lalu ji by poisoning him in the hospital. If the Centre as well as the state governments of Bihar and Jharkhand want to kill him, if they want to kill the entire family of Lalu Prasad, they can do so, but their dictatorship will not be accepted,” she had said in a minute-long video clip posted on her Twitter handle.

Prasad’s younger son and opposition leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav was also denied permission from the jail authorities to meet his father in RIMS on April 7. He later alleged that the RJD chief was being meted out treatment worse than those of prisoners of war in Pakistan jail.

First Published: May 12, 2019 10:37 IST